Tuesday 20 February 2018

How trouble brewed over Hyde's plan to choose Áras name

Ireland's first President, Douglas Hyde. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Ireland's first President, Douglas Hyde. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
John Downing

John Downing

Ireland's first President, Douglas Hyde, wanted to call the presidential residence 'Brú na Life' or the 'Liffey Residence'.

However, worried civil servants vetoed the idea, fearing Dublin's notoriously streetwise wags would dub it as 'Brew na Life' - otherwise called Guinness - thereby demeaning the first citizen of the nation's residence for ever.

Douglas Hyde was very insistent that the presidential residence should be known only by a Gaelic title, and while he gladly accepted Áras an Uachtaráin, he fought a determined campaign that this title only should appear on all road signs and literature associated with the office.

A new book about the founder of the Gaelic League , and a leading light in the Irish language revival, also reveals how President Hyde failed to find an Irish-speaking butler for Áras an Uachtaráin in 1938.

And it shows how the government, led by Éamon de Valera, was not happy with the new President taking over the British Viceroy's former Phoenix Park residence - but difficulties halted plans for other arrangements.

The book, 'Forgotten Patriot - Douglas Hyde and the Foundation of the Irish Presidency', by historian and former speech-writer for two Taoisigh, Brian Murphy, explores the life of a much-neglected figure in Irish history.

It will be published next month.

Irish Independent

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